The mysterious rock of Shiprock

Located in northwestern New Mexico, the mysterious Shiprock is the result of a volcanic eruption that occurred about 30-40 million years ago. Its main part is 600 m high, 500 m in diameter, and is 2,300 m above sea level. This place owes its name to its resemblance to the nose of a ship.

Shiprock is also known as Tse Bit’a’i (“winged rock”), the name given to it by the Navajo Indians. Many aboriginal tribes of the region consider this mysterious rock sacred. It was also a significant landmark on the trail for American settlers in the Wild West and later played many roles in a variety of Wild West movies.

It was first conquered in 1939 by members of the Sierra Club of California. The climb was received extremely negatively by the Navajo Nation, and climbing is now banned here. An Indian legend tells that the tribe was once attacked by enemies and had nothing to do but pray. To get the latest stories, install our app here


The gods heard the people, the ground beneath their feet had wings, and it soared into the air, carrying all who stood on it to safety. The “Winged Stone” has remained in the desert ever since. The rescued Navajos began to live on it, going down only for water and to plant crops.


One day, as the men were working in the fields, lightning split Tse Bit’a’i, leaving only an impregnable rock in its place. The men could not return, and the women and children were unable to go down and starved to death. It is believed that their remains still rest on the summit, and the Navajo do not want the ashes of their ancestors disturbed.

Shiprock, too, is not without its Navajo legends. According to one of them, this mountain was inhabited by Monster Birds, who ate the meat of people. And the people were saved from them by two twin warriors. I assume that they are no longer there: the mountain is popular with climbers, despite the fact that climbing it is illegal. The Navajo do not issue permits to climb their sacred mountain…

Unfortunately, many climbers do not consider the feelings and beliefs of Native Americans and seek to climb the mystical rock. Many of them died, and the memorial plaque placed on the way to Shiprock warns of the danger to their possible followers.

It can be reached by Highway 666, which is often referred to as “the devil’s highway” by association with “the number of the beast”. Its other “nicknames” are “Satan’s Speedway” or “the Devil’s Path. The area around the most mysterious Shiprock is also shrouded in a frightening mystery: UFOs are often seen here.

The mysterious rock of Shiprock
The mysterious rock of Shiprock

It belongs to the type of “inselbergs,” or lonely island cliffs, created by the erosion of weaker layers of the plateau that rose millions of years ago as a result of plate collision.

The rock, or denser rock, eroded more slowly and so remained as it is. Such rocks are only possible on high-altitude plateaus, and they are found on all continents. Due to the fact that they have a different rock, they are often given sacred or mystical significance, such as the famous Uluru Rock in central Australia.

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